Kelly Dzialo

Students participate in biannual blood drive

BY KELLY DZIALO
Contributor

County College of Morris students were given the opportunity to donate blood on campus as Phi Theta Kappa hosted semi-annual blood drives in conjunction with the Community Blood Council of New Jersey and CCM Health Services. This year’s blood drive took place Thursday, March 30.

“It’s the easiest possible donation that you can give that instantly can mean life to somebody,” said Daria Caldwell, a Donor Relations Representative for the Community Blood Council of New Jersey. “Each pint of blood that we draw can save up to three lives.”

The Community Blood Council of New Jersey has basic requirements for donating blood. A donor must weigh at least 120 pounds, have normal blood pressure and be between the ages of 16 and 75 years old. Each blood donation is approximately one pint of blood.

“We run these [blood drives] as a part of our service,” said Michelle Mardis, Phi Theta Kappa’s Vice President of Scholarship. “We want to give back to the community; that’s the main thing for us.”

The Community Blood Council of New Jersey is a unique organization, as blood donated through them remains in New Jersey hospitals, while other organizations often send blood all over the country.

According to Caldwell, people with an O negative blood type are considered universal donors, as every person can accept O negative blood in addition to their own blood type. Due to the versatility of O negative blood, donors are in high demand.

Billy Kohning, a business administration major at CCM, is one of those donors.

“This isn’t my first time [donating],” Kohning said. “I started in high school, and I did a blood test beforehand. They said I was O negative and some other thing that I don’t know yet; I’ve been looking. I know can give blood to unborn fetuses that need it.”

Kohning, fresh off the blood donation bus with blue gauze wrapped around his left arm, also mentioned a family friend has received blood transfusions through a bout with cancer.

“People need our blood, and it’s 30 minutes of your time to save someone’s life,” Kohning said. “It’s worth it.”

Fifty-six days are needed for recovery between each blood donation, while only 12 days are needed between each platelet donation.

Precautions are taken by the donation organizations to ensure donors eat properly before and after blood donation, as well as verifying any recent abroad trips.

“We are going to make sure you’re okay before we ever put a needle in you” Caldwell said. “Nobody should ever feel guilted into something like this.”

While a chance to donate blood is available to CCM students on campus twice a year, the Community Blood Council of New Jersey accepts donations Monday through Saturday every week at their center in Trenton.

“A lot of students don’t realize that giving just a little bit of blood can save three lives,” Mardis said. “They don’t realize that little contribution can make such a big difference.”

World peace subject of student projects

BY KELLY DZIALO
Contributor

County College of Morris commemorates 9/11 each year by presenting the County College of Morris Peace Prize, and current students are able to participate in the competition for the chance to win $1,000 by creating a project focused on world peace.

Peter Maguire, associate English professor at CCM, said he established the CCM Peace Prize in 2001 after hearing about the Nobel Peace Prize on the radio.

“I thought what an interesting concept it might to be for County College of Morris to fashion its own Peace Prize of one type of another,” Maguire said. “I thought it would be unique. I didn’t know of any other college which obviously had something like that. The combination of [9/11] and the awarding of that year’s [Nobel] Peace Prize, the conflation of the two made me think how beneficial it would be to the college as well as it might be something students would get their teeth into.”

Established in the fall of 2001, the program encourages students to focus on world peace by submitting expository or creative writing, video production, musical composition or other visual and performance art. Submissions may be from an individual or the collaborative effort of students.

“There are a number of bright, brilliant, creative, passionate, thoughtful students, who will feel a spark, a desire to make a statement and create something that they think will have an impact on others,” Maguire said. “Granted, something like this is not going to stop war or famine or suffering or change the world, but the idea that rather than curse the darkness, to add a light, a candle, or lamp and offer light.”

Students wishing to participate must complete and submit an application to Maguire by April 3. Project submissions are due by May 1 for judging. The judges each year include a current CCM faculty member, and whomever holds the positions of chair of CCM Board of Trustees, president of the CCM Foundation, president of CCM and president of College of Saint Elizabeth.

“I have a background in the arts,” said Joseph Vitale, CCM Foundation president. “I love the arts, I love creativity and expression, and it’s exciting to see the students’ works. It’s also exciting to see how different students use different media to get their point across.”

The winner will be honored at commencement May 26 with the $1,000 prize money and a plaque provided by the CCM Foundation. A plaque in the Student Community Center also showcases the name of each recipient.

“It would be great to see more students come out,” Vitale said. “I would say, if you are a musician, a dancer, a painter, a writer, a sculptor or whatever is your mode of expression, it’s a great exercise to have a topic to express.”

Distance learning provides alternatives for CCM students

BY KELLY DZIALO
Contributor

County College of Morris offers online and hybrid courses allow students to engage in lectures, tests, quizzes, discussions, readings, and assignments as if they were in a regular classroom without the constraints of that environment.

A professor and other students are active in the class with them, however, the course is conducted entirely online except for possible orientations or testing.

“A lot of students don’t just go to school anymore,” said Sheri Ventura, distance learning coordinator at CCM. “They work as well. [Online classes] allow them to work around schedules; it’s done on their time.”

Many students take advantage of the flexibility online and hybrid courses offer. Felicia Melvin, a liberal arts major at CCM, is one of those students.

“I’m taking six classes, so [online courses] break it up,” Melvin said. “I don’t have to come [to campus] every single day.”

To balance her schedule this semester, Melvin said she chose to enroll in art history, history, and computer technologies as online courses.

“The advantage is that I can do it at my own pace,” Melvin said. “I feel like I can learn by teaching myself, it’s better. There are no disadvantages.”

Ventura agreed, as long as students are prepared to maintain their own assignment schedules.

“Being well-prepared, self-disciplined, staying focused on the syllabus, being organized are just some of the basic tools for success,” she said.

While deadlines are determined by the professor, distance learning courses allow students to allocate time to work on the course that works with their schedule.

“Students need the disciple,” Ventura said. “That’s probably one of the biggest misconceptions, that it’s just going to be easier. There’s a calendar, a syllabus, a timeline that [students] have to follow along with.”

Underestimating the workload may catch students off-guard at first.

“I actually didn’t know [photography] was a hybrid,” said Alaster Winter, a graphic design major at CCM. “It’s a little more difficult for me because I’m more of a visual person.”

Winter said he has a plan to be successful in the course despite his learning preferences.

“I’ll listen more in class and do better in class. The visual things in class will help me when I’m online,” he said.

While doing the work on their own time might sound appealing, online classes carry a workload which might overwhelm some students.

“I encourage students, instead of jumping into an online class, to take a hybrid class first,” Ventura said. “Hybrids are a combination of face-to-face and online and are a good way for students to become familiar with Blackboard, our learning management system. But also have face-to-face contact with a professor, which some students really like or need.”

Students can take a quiz on the distance learning page on CCM’s website to see if they would be a good candidate for an online or hybrid course.

“[The quiz] identifies areas they may need to strengthen, but the success really depends on the student. They have to be an independent learner,” said Ventura.

Welcome Back Bash showcases student opportunities

BY KELLY DZIALO
Contributor

Whether a student is new to the County College of Morris (CCM) community or is a seasoned veteran of multiple years, there are many opportunities for involvement in the campus community that many are unaware of.

CCM boasts has over 45 active clubs, from co-curricular clubs to honor societies, special interest crews to religious organizations, and more. The bi-annual Welcome Back Bash features many CCM clubs at the beginning of each semester to give students the opportunity to get involved.

The Spring Welcome Back Bash, sponsored by the Student Activities Programming Board, will be hosted from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 31 in the Student Community Center (SCC).

Most clubs have a presence at the Bash, allowing students to join clubs they truly identify with.

Students passionate about different cultures can join the Diversity Club as they explore the world through guest speakers, field trips, and on-campus programs. Pretty Girls Sweat capitalize on a living a healthy lifestyle through various group activities. Active Minds “increase the awareness of the campus community about issues surrounding mental health symptoms related to mental health disorders and various mental health resources.”

Clubs are an integral part of many students’ college experiences. Many students develop skills to present on a resume, such as time management, as well as qualities to grow and extend into their professional lives.

Moreover, students connect with peers outside the classroom, connecting on perhaps deeper levels than class time allows. Clubs focus on a community setting that allows relationships to flourish, uniting people with similar interests.

The Welcome Back Bash allows students to meet current members, leaders, and advisers of current clubs on campus. The event is a great opportunity to plug into a club at the beginning of this spring semester.

At any point in the year, the Campus Life Information Window in the SCC can provide an up-to-date list of when and where CCM’s student clubs meet.

CCM students’ tips and tricks for dealing with stress

By Kelly Dzialo
Contributor

With jam packed schedules full of assignments, work and personal obligations, students across the County College of Morris campus find themselves dealing with daily stress.

While many have found methods to deal with the overwhelming pressure college life entails, others find it too much to bear and allow stress to take a toll on their personal lives.

“I don’t get much sleep at night,” said Brianna Affinto, an art major at CCM. “I’m a full time student and I work full time so sleep isn’t very high on my list of priorities. I go to school all morning, I work all night and any spare time in between is spent studying or doing homework. I came to CCM to try and bring up my GPA up before I transferred to a 4-year school and I don’t intend to break that plan.”

Affinto focuses on finding an avenue for channeling the stress her goals put on her.

“Thank god I’m an art major and I get to draw everything out. When I’m stressed I challenge it into whatever assignment I have and the output is always pretty good,” said Affinto.

If art is not the escape to other students that it is to her, Affinto said her advice is to look at the big picture.

“Why do you come to campus every day? What do you want out of life? Or do you just get out of bed at 8’o clock in the morning for no good reason?”

Criminal justice major Catherine Brown said that the stress of classes in constantly on the back of her mind. “I’m taking three online classes this semester,” Brown said. “I thought it would make managing time easier but it seems like every day is a due date for something.”

Brown works full time as a waitress, and managing time is a top priority for her when things get busy.

“School is extremely important,” Brown said. “No matter what field you choose to go into in life, it requires some sort of education, but while you work towards the future you shouldn’t forget to have fun. We’re young, we want to do well but we can’t forget to have some fun in between it all. My best advice is for every accomplishment, relax, and do one fun thing. Reward yourself.”

It takes different students different amounts of time to figure out their stress management plan.

Tyler Bishop, chemistry major at CCM, said he allowed stress to let him believe he wasn’t cut out school and was in over his head when he made the decision to attend college.

“This is my second year in college,” Bishop said. “My first semester was extremely stressful. It was a huge change from high school. Everyone seemed so prepared and I left like I missing something.”

Taking only 3 classes this semester, Bishop learned that a smaller workload allowed him to focus more on his studies and decreased the level of responsibility that was expected of him.

“I took 5 classes my first semester,” Bishop said. “I learned pretty fast being a full time student was too hard for me and was the reason my stressful level was through the roof. You get to college and you feel a strong sense of independence but that doesn’t mean you can’t ask for some help along the way. I needed help my first semester and advisement helped me realize I need more time to do work.”

There is no one right way to deal with stress. Taking time and learning how you best learn and grow is the best way to find a method that works for you.

The power of office hours

By Kelly Dzialo
Contributor

County College of Morris (CCM) professors dedicate time outside the classroom setting for one-on-one dialogue with students. Three hours of each professor’s week is allocated for office hours or online office hours. However, students often do not realize the many advantages of meeting with professors beyond the time allotted for class.

“I think office hours are absolutely valuable, not only for the instructor but also for the student,” said Samantha Gigliotti, a biology instructor at CCM. “It’s an opportunity where your door is open, that students can just come in as they feel free.”

Office hours allow students to engage in conversation, get to know their professors, ask questions and receive advice on class and beyond.

Professors typically teach five classes, even multiple sections of the same class. Consequently, they stand in front of many students each week. The relationship with most students does not go beyond names.

“In class you can only get to know a student on a certain level, especially the ones that talk,” said David Pallant, an assistant professor of communication at CCM. “They can dominate, and the rest that don’t, you never get to meet.”

The importance of getting to know professors, despite how active students are in class, is stressed by faculty.

Moreover, office hours are helping hands to students and an opportunity not to be missed.

“I feel like a lot of students who are struggling don’t utilize all the resources available to them, and office hours are one,” said Ian Colquhoun, an assistant professor of engineering technologies at CCM. “I can explain something in class one way that just didn’t click; however, I can approach things using personal life experience to help. You can’t do that if they don’t visit you during office hours.”

Professors can only help students if they know where the struggle or confusion exists. Evelyn Emma, an assistant professor of English at CCM, said she appreciates the ease of conversing with a student one on one. When meeting outside the classroom setting, she is able to get to know students on a personal level.

Office hours can also be used for discussing material unrelated to class. “When students come…it could be about transfer, internships or course advising,” said Pallant.

All departments see the value of office hours and are eager to help students in any way possible. Whether students visit professors with general or class-related questions and concerns, each conversation allows the relationship to deepen. Professors’ office hours are announced at the beginning of each semester, printed in the class syllabus and posted on office doors.